Kirtan is a sanskrit word that means “to communicate, to celebrate, to praise.” It is an ancient yoga practice of call-and-response chanting, repeating the many names and attributes of the Divine. It is a joyful and uplifting practice. This class will feature chanting from other spiritual traditionals and cultures as well. This event is a community co-creation. Those who wish to are invited to bring instruments, songs and chants to share. All ages are welcome. We will sing and chant with the intention of creating peace within us and all over the earth. The Masters say that it’s the easiest Yoga practice during this Kali Yuga. ‘Dennis Winge’s Kirtan is filled with devotion, and enthusiasm. It is infused with a spiritual energy that makes it both captivating and uplifting. – -David Newman
Damodar Das (spiritual name for Dennis Winge), was a full-time New York City jazz and studio guitarist for over 10 years before he fell in love with kirtan in early 2010, after which he rapidly learned much about the sacred practice. He took week-long intensive kirtan course with the world renowned chant-master David Newman at Omega Institute in Spring 2010. There he learned many traditional chants, studied Sanskrit vocabulary and pronunciation, heard stories about the Deities, and memorized several ancient Vedic prayers as well as the 40 -verse Hanuman Chalisa. In Fall 2010 he was initiated into Kriya Yoga by Shibendu Lahiri, great grandson of Lahiri Mahashay. In 2011, Damodar Das completed a 30-hour training course with American Sanskrit Institute teacher Jo Brill, in which he learned to read ‘Devanagari’ (Sanskrit script) as well as understand and appreciate the nuances of Sanskrit poetry.
Leading his chants on both harmonium and guitar, he played at such well-known spiritual centers as Kripalu, Omega, and Ananda Ashram. While living in Westchester County, NY he was featured in Natural Awakenings magazine (click here to view). Upon moving to the Finger Lakes region in early 2012 he has led kirtan at Visshudha in Binghamton, Grounded by Yoga in Bloomfield, Aakayani in Ithaca, and the Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies in Hector, and now regularly leads a monthly kirtan at Yoga and More in Corning and a monthly chanting of the Hanumaan Chaaleesaa in Foundation of Light in Ithaca.
His ensemble includes a rotating cast of other professional musicians on traditional and non-traditional instruments as harmonium, tabla, doumbek, djembe, flute, violin, bass, and keyboards. Damodar Das also founded the band “Mantra Magic” and co-lead and co-organized the wildly successful ‘Rock and Roll Kirtan’ in Garrison NY in April 2011 as well as the fabulous New Years Eve Kirtan Extravaganza 2010 in Ridgefield, CT. As a sideman Winge has played with such kirtan greats as Sri Kirtan, Satya Franche & Ma Kirtan, Sahaja Kathi Norklun, Sita ‘s Light, Lee Harrington, BlisSing, Shivananda and Shubalananda.
Winge has taken traditional Eastern kirtan to a new level that continually appeals to many Westerners by utilizing his extensive jazz and rock background. His deep respect for and extensive knowledge of Sanskrit chant is engagingly complemented by his jazz- and rock-influenced style of kirtan. As a freelance guitarist for over 10 years, Dennis is well-versed in many styles of music and incorporates a variety of musical forms and traditions in his kirtan. Some of his chants are based on the chord progression to jazz standards and classic rock hits, even including ones from Patti Smith and Jimi Hendrix! The combination of musical familiarity and deep devotion to the Divine Names that are sung is not only widely appealing but also an uplifting experience for all who attend Winge’s kirtans. Winge strikes a perfect balance between traditional and non-traditional, as well as between inward, meditation-fostering chants and those that are simply a rollicking good time to sing!